CATALOGUE NUMBERS 0540 & 0541
PAIR OF IRON-RED & FAMILLE VERTE SQUARE-SECTION FLASKS
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Height: 9 ½ inches
The Chinese Porcelain Company, Ltd., New York, 2001
A pair of famille verte flasks and covers, each bottle of square section and tall, rectangular form, with flat shoulders and short, cylindrical unglazed neck, topped by a conforming flat cylindrical cover and supported on a flat, unglazed base. Decorated in famille verte enamels and gilt. Painted on each side with two small panels of varying pomegranate, peach leaf, fan or double-gourd form, each panel containing a bird perched on a flowering branch or a Chinese figure in a garden or landscape, reserved on a pale iron red ground superimposed with gilt flowering sprays and enclosed by a band of green and yellow diamond diaper with iron red florets, each corner of the flat shoulders painted with a trefoil containing a curling leaf and each side with an iron red band and a further diaper band, the top with a radiating chrysanthemum bloom in iron red, yellow, and green.
While the Chinese had been producing blue and white square form flasks since the Ming dynasty, this version probably derives from a Japanese prototype. The Japanese had been producing porcelain flasks for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) since the mid-seventeenth century, first in blue and white and then also in kakiemon palette. Japanese examples also exist with Dutch decoration in the Japanese style. The Japanese flasks were based on European glass forms and were produced in various sizes over a long period of time. Smaller flasks were used in apothecaries while the larger vessels were used to store liquids such as gin or oils.